Link to Frontline page here. The accompanying Hartford Courant article is entitled A Deeper Divide: The Gun Control Debate After Newtown. Everyone who has witnessed a disagreement between gun rights and gun control folks should take 20 minutes and watch this.
Like a pair of aging crooners hoping to recapture past glory with a long-awaited reunion tour, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson released a new version of their deficit reduction plan today. Ezra Klein ferrets out the real news in the plan: It asks for far less in new revenues, and more in spending cuts, than the previous Simpson-Bowles plan did.Ezra follows with an interview:
Whereas the previous Simpson-Bowles plan contained a roughly even split of revenues and cuts, the new one reduces the revenue “ask” dramatically, with the result that the overall plan is lopsidedly tilted towards cuts. The reason for this pinpointed by Klein is particularly striking:This isn’t meant to be an update to Simpson-Bowles 1.0. Rather, it’s meant to be an outline for a new grand bargain. To that end, Simpson and Bowles began with Obama and Boehner’s final offers from the fiscal cliff deal. That helps explain why their tax ask has fallen so far: Obama’s final tax ask was far lower than what was in the original Simpson-Bowles plan, while Boehner’s tilt towards spending cuts was far greater than what was in the original Simpson-Bowles.In other words, the plan roughly represents the ideological midpoint between the Obama and Boehner fiscal cliff blueprints — which is why the plan is so heavily tilted towards cuts. As Kevin Drum notes, this is particularly odd, given that spending cuts have already been “75 percent of the deficit reduction we’ve done so far.” Drum adds: “this sure makes it hard to take Simpson-Bowles 2.0 seriously as a plan.”
EK: Why start where the two parties ended in the fiscal deal? The really valuable role, I thought, of the original Simpson-Bowles plan, and of Domenici-Rivlin, was that they created a kind of baseline of how people of good faith from both parties would try to solve our debt problems if they weren’t bound by some of the normal rules of politics. Why go from that to just trying to split the difference between the two parties?If you don't claim to be an expert, then don't make the suggestion. There's nothing worse than screwing seniors over something that might happen down the road as opposed to what is happening now. Ezra's point is key. Obamacare and a rising economy significantly change the equation of what's needed to bring things into balance. It's prudent and not rash to wait and see what happens before radically changing the status quo.
EB: Because we weren’t trying to put out the ideal plan. We were trying to put out something that might be able to get done. If we had all the revenue in there that the president was looking for and the spending cuts Republicans might need in order to get a deal done, then perhaps we could make a material difference in the long-term outlook of the country....
EK: Speaking of health care, one argument right now is that health-care costs have slowed and we have all these experiments through Obamacare trying to figure out how to keep them low, and so the right move now is to wait a few years and see if health costs remain low and then reevaluate when we both know more about costs but also have more information on what works from Obamacare. But you move in the opposite direction here and increase your health-care savings. Why?
EB: I don’t claim to be an expert. But I do think it is critically important that we are confident that we’re going to control the rate of growth for health care. I don’t know if the current slowdown is structural or cyclical. I always felt when the better numbers came out during President Clinton’s time, I thought people were trying to make the numbers look better at a particular period of time. So I think we should err on the side of being more conservative and slowing the rate of growth. And we can always go back and add them back.
From NPR (listen here):
Gun Control An Emotional Issue For Citizens, Lawmakers In ColoradoSee also Meteor Blades' piece from last night on this, and follow us below the fold for Ian Reifowitz, Kathleen Parker and more.
Ian Reifowitz writes on immigration:
We got some very good news recently about the twenty million adults in this country who were born here and are the children of immigrants. A comprehensive report from the Pew Research Center finds that this second generation is doing significantly better than today's first-generation immigrants in terms of education, home ownership rate, percentage living below the poverty line, and median income. Surprisingly, the second generation even matches the economic success of Americans overall, while graduating from college at higher rates than the U.S. average. (This reflects the high college graduation rate of Asian Americans, who make up a larger proportion of second-generation immigrants than the general population).Even Kathleen Parker gets that Republicans are in trouble.
Sorry, guys. The sentiment behind no-labels is at the core of my very being, though I prefer Walker Percy’s more eloquent imperative that we should repent of labels. It is the essence of my Moi-ness: Stop fussing and fix it. But movements don’t begin with “No.” No-labels is a non without a sequitur. A yield without a merge. A . . . non-starter.But it's fair to say it's easier to diagnose the problem than come up with an acceptable solution (see Republicans agree they've lost their way ... but not on what to do.)
Thus, what has become glaringly clear is that RINOs need to stop being so normal and grant their better angels a sabbatical. Forget taking back the country. Start by taking back your party. Do it for your country.
RINOs: The Strong. The Proud. The Many.
NY Times editorial:
In a deeply worrisome move, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a new campaign finance lawsuit that challenges long-established federal caps on the total amount an individual can contribute to federal campaigns in a two-year cycle. In a ruling last year, a special court in Washington correctly upheld those limits, which in some form have been included in federal law since 1974.
If the justices were to overturn that decision, it would be the first time that the court has struck down a contribution limit as unconstitutional. That would eliminate an essential tool in combating the corrupting effects of money in politics.